Monday, December 02, 2013
"Sempre Fi: Always Faithful" documents the carcinogen hazard at Camp Lejeune, NC
“Sempre Fi: Always Faithful”, by Tony Hardmon and Rachel Libert, is a documentary about an apparent environmental and health scandal at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base at Jacksonsville, NC, along the southeast coast in the state.
The film starts with the history of Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, who joined the Marine Corps in 1970, just two years after my own draft into the Army. He would progress and become a drill sergeant. In a few years, he had a family on base and a daughter was born. The daughter, Janey, would die of a rare form of leukemia at age 9.
In the mid 1980s, the government would find unacceptable levels of TCB, a known carcinogen, in the drinking water at Camp Lejeuene. Over time, many other cases of cancers – mostly non-Hodgkin’s lymphpomas, kidney cancers, throat cancers, and particularly male breast cancers, would be diagnosed among personnel and particularly family that had lived on the base.
In 2012, the House approved the Janey Ensminger Act to help families at Camp Lejeuene (Huffington story here.
The film depicts an effort to recruit volunteers and organize families at the post, and get victims to pose for a calendar.
I have visited the town the base is in once, in May 1993. There actually was a gay bar in town that was a target of controversy when President Clinton started the effort to end the ban on gays in the military.
The film can be viewed on Netflix Instant play.
I seem to recall a 78 rpm record of the “Sempre Fidelis” March by John Philip Sousa as a boy.
Wikipedia attribution link for Camp Lejeune picture,